We get several calls a year from clients and the general public regarding wild animals that may need help. Most people are calling because they don’t know who else to call, or what they should do themselves. Here is some general information that can come in handy if you find yourself in the position to help wildlife.
As a general rule, it is extremely important to treat all wild animals with caution. If you have found an injured adult animal or one that appears ill, the first step is to call for assistance. You can reach a trained wildlife rehabilitator by going online to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at www.dgif.virginia.gov and searching by your zip code, or by contacting the Richmond Wildlife Center at (804)378-2000 or check out their website at www.richmondwildlife.org. Once you get in touch with one of the above organizations, they can direct you to the best method of helping the animal.
If you find an injured or orphaned baby animal, be aware that even young wildlife can be aggressive and possibly dangerous. Contact one of the organizations mentioned above and let them know where it was found and the circumstances surrounding its rescue; they will provide more instructions based on your individual case.
If you already have the animal in your possession, remember these rules:
- Handle the animal as little as possible: Wild animals can quickly become severely stressed and cause themselves harm trying to escape.
- Keep the animal in a quiet, dark place away from children and household pets.
- Do not feed or try and force the animal to drink: Wildlife have very specific diets and the introduction of any kind of new food can cause serious health problems and even death.
- If the animal has obvious injuries, don’t try and medicate or treat the wounds yourself. This will cause the animal to become more stressed and possibly aggressive if they are in pain, and bear in mind that many medicines are toxic to wild animals.